Chapter 36698398

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Chapter NumberXLIX
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Full Date1868-06-27
Page Number3
Word Count3253
Last Corrected2020-01-31
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
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THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from Saturday, 20th June.) CHAPTER XLIX. FORTUNE'S FAVOR. THE gentlemen of the Survey Office, thinking probably that Mr. Herbart was already com- fortably lodged, were in no hurry to compro- mise the dignity of their department by speedily forwarding the location order pro- mised by the Governor himself. Edwin allowed them a fortnight, and when that time elapsed, and it did not appear, his mighty spirit chafed like that of a chained lion, and his impatience manifested itself in various unmistakable ways, as indeed on all suitable occasions it was accustomed to do. Maxwell told him to make himself easy, as Colonel Arthur's word was law, and he might be thankful if he got his order in three months' time, and then probably he would have to go to the capital for it himself ; but Maxwell was wrong, for the document arrived just at the expiration of one month from the day of promise, and Edwin's heart was comforted within him. It was decidedly the most pre- cious document he had ever received in his life. The first duty he performed after this great event was to write a becoming letter of thanks to his benefactor, and his next to hold a consultation with his friends concerning his future operations. After a good deal of talk, in which the ladies kindly joined, it was de- cided that Edwin's best course would be to engage the services of Mr. Juniper in his pro- fessional capacity of surveyor, as from his ex- tensive knowledge of the country he would be a valuable adviser, and materially assist the young gentleman in the selection of his farm. When this result was made known to Juniper he consented to the proposal with alacrity, and immediate preparations were made for a start. Maxwell, who had already replenished Edwin's wardrobe out of his stores, was now kind enough to offer him a loan of five hundred pounds, at an easy rate of interest, for two years, on the security of his new grant, which Edwin accepted with thanks ; he also selected, as a free gift by Maxwell's express desire, four well-broken bullocks and two of the best horses to be found in the Bremgarten stud. His exer- tions in every way except thought were some- what impeded by his bodily weakness conse- quent upon his recent wound, but he managed to furnish Miss Arnott with a copy of the tale which she desired to possess, and to write a long letter to his mother, giving an account of the wonderful change in his fortunes, and inviting her to come to him, promising to have a home ready for her by the time she arrived. Henry had made up his mind to return to Sydney, where his presence was now urgently required ; but Isabel at the earnest solicita- tion of her friends consented to remain at Bremgarten until her brother either sent for her or came back in person. Maxwell, having business to settle in Hobart Town, made arrangements to accompany Henry on his journey thither, and they started in the same gig which the Colonel had brought with him. Young Arnott took his leave of Griselda without displaying any of that affec- tionate regret which is generally shown by by ardent lovers when they temporarily part from the objects of their love. Isabel em- braced her brother not without tears, and it was noticed that the latter reciprocated her embrace but coldly. Mrs. Maxwell was greatly puzzled what to make of Henry. He maintained upon all subjects a stolid indif- ference that astonished and chilled her ; and she was not without her fears that his sudden emancipation from the control of his father would have a bad effect upon a mind over- balanced, as it seemed to her, with too great a share of selfishness. Juniper and Edwin set out upon their tra- vels, the latter having taken an affectionate leave of his friends, and the former expati- ating loudly on the beauty and richness of the land they were going to survey, and the good fortune of Mr. Herbart in being able to set his foot upon a corner of it and call it his own. The provident surveyor took with him a cart and four bullocks in addition to Edwin's team, also two steady men ; the cart contained a small tent and an ample supply of provisions ; and with his quiet stock horse, a couple of fine kangaroo dogs, and his trusty Joe Manton, he promised himself all the pleasures of a picnic without the ladies for a month or two. Leaving his cart to pursue its tedious course towards the town ship of Cressy, which had no existence in those days except on the surveyor's maps, he rode on with Edwin to the Northern capital, Launceston, where he expected to find letters from the Surveyor-General, touching the business upon which he was at present en- gaged. We have ourselves been to Launceston a great many times, and we like it very much, albeit there are too many of those respectable establishments from which issue the execrable vapors and concomitant sounds of vile intem- perance. We will not dwell on the dark side of any picture, in the incipient hope that the cities of the earth will yet witness a better state of things, and in this respect the Tasmanian city is not stigmatised more than any other. You arrive, like Lambro (but more amiable we trust), at the summit of a hill which overlooks the grey, yellow, and red houses with their shingled roofs, and from which you can see a bare yellow eminence on either side, dotted with little huts and ele- gant mansions ; some looking lonely and desolate, others surrounded by neat gar- dens and pretty shrubberies, where free and happy young Tasmanians breathe the purest air of the most charming climate in the world. On your right you can see at some distance a picturesque mountain, and between that and the town a broad and fer- tile valley where, silently glide the limpid waters of the North Esk. On the other side you may observe as you enter the town, the narrow and rocky gorge through which the South Esk, swollen by the Macquarie and Lake rivers, has forced for itself from time immemorial a passage to the sea. And the sea sends up its briny tide more than forty miles into the bosom of the land to meet these rivers, thus forming the Tamar, in itself a beautiful river, flowing like a wide belt of silver through grassy marshes of great extent ; and between wooded hills which to look upon is to admire. Ships and steamers pass to and fro along this river every day, keeping the northern emporium well supplied with every article for which modern fastidiousness can sigh. It is not deficient in handsome churches filled as we have seen to overflowing : nor are well regulated hotels

and attractive shops by any means rare. New buildings which do credit to the talents of the architects are springing up in all direc- tions ; while the inhabitants, famous for their private hospitality and charity, are not one whit behind the age in supporting Mechanics' Institutes and Benevolent So- cieties. We are but a very small atom in the great ocean of life, but still, pretty Laun- ceston ! were we thousands of miles away, we would remember that bright morning when first we saw the sleeping, and watched with delighted eyes the rising sun gilding thy adjacent hills with the rays of enchant- ment. Our humble hero and his still humbler pioneer soon left their quarters in Launceston and entered upon their toils in the bush. Mr. Juniper had provided himself with a map by which he was enabled to measure off Edwin's grant without interfering with the lands already granted to other people. The ren- dezvous was quickly reached, and the cart again set in motion. They travelled now through a finer portion of the island than Edwin had yet seen : as much superior to Bremgarten as this last was to the forests on the eastern coast. From the rendezvous they proceeded it a north-westerly direction, their course lying nearly parallel with the almost continuous wall of abrupt precipices which skirt for a great distance that rich district now known as Norfolk Plains. The weather was favorable to the explorers, though light showers fell occasionally, Spring having com- menced under the happiest auspices. After wandering for more than twenty miles along the base of the mountains, though not immediately contiguous to them, Juniper alighted from his horse on a calm morning on the banks of a beautiful little river, which meandered slowly amongst a varied succession of gently swelling hills, thickly covered with grass and millions of yellow, purple, and pink flowers. The everlasting gum trees were here also, but instead of dis- playing the straight and tall stems which characterised them in dense forests, they here assumed a stunted irregular appearance, their variegated trunks growing in all sorts of gnarled and fantastic shapes. The wattle trees were clothed with rich yellow bloom, refreshing beyond measure to the eye, and grateful to the olfactory nerves ; and the honeysuckles with their gloomy foliage spread here and there over the rank grass a tempting shelter from the heat of the noon- day sun. Our surveyor led his horse up an eminence of no great height whose summit expanded into a level plain of about three acres in extent. His movements were fol- lowed by our friend Edwin, and they both gazed around them with delight. Juniper threw his bridle reins on the grass, unpacked his tracings and pocket compass and sat down to study them instantly. In ten minutes he rose up and said with an air of calm decision worthy of a Field Marshal—" This is the property, Mr. Herbart, take my advice and pitch your tent here, and in twenty years you can go home like a nabob." Edwin smiled and replied that he thought Juniper was right, and that he might verify the old adage by going a deal farther and faring much worse ; so at the foot of the little hill the cattle were taken from the cart, the tent was pitched, a fire lit, and supper cooked in a comparatively short time. Edwin and Juniper spread their rugs within the tent, and the men theirs under the bullook dray. As the daylight had already disappeared the travellers lay down to rest, carrying on conversation in a subdued tone until their eyes should close in sleep. Before this, however, they were startled by hearing a loud noise, a coo-ee or native yell ringing sharply at a little distance. Juniper and Edwin both started up, the former seizing his gun which lay beside him, and listened ; in a short time the cry was repeated and was unexpectedly answered by a noisy demonstration from Juniper's dogs. " Death and fury !" said the surveyor ; " keep those dogs quiet or we'll be murdered —strict silence and listen—we can't expect to find friends here. Down, Spanker, Yarra ; lie down, ye devils. " They must be natives," said Edwin. " No," said Juniper, " natives don't move at night ; that was the voice of an English- man, I'll swear, and he may be a desperate bushranger. Whoever he is he'll have heard the dogs, and think he has stumbled upon a party of blacks." And after listening in si- lence for some time, he added—" I thought so, we'll not hear him again to-night, and may as well go to sleep." They lay down again and soon slept, though under certain vague apprehensions for their personal safety. Nothing occurred during the night to disturb them, and in the morn- ing they rose early, breakfasted, and pro- ceeded to look about them, Juniper carrying his gun and bending his steps upwards along the river. It was a mere morning stroll by way of prelude to the important business of the survey ; for the surveyor found it neces- sary to examine the localities well before he could lay down the basis of his operations. As he walked along, he spoke to his com- panion in a strain of high-flown panegyric, somewhat in this fashion—" This is the land, Mr. Herbart, that will keep the sheep and cattle as fat as mud—as fat as mud—and fill your storehouses with grain in thousands of bushels. What a lucky fellow you are ! and here have I been working like a slave all my life in a dark hole, with a rapid river in front and a mass of rocks behind ; though I will say it is a good place for pork and cheese." " This is the direction in which we heard the coo-ee last night ;" said Edwin, " perhaps we may see something of the benighted wan- derer." " Yes," said Juniper, " and if he's a second Mike Howe, we shall be riddled with swan- drops in no time ; but look yonder, as sure as I have brains in my head there's a cart under those trees and a tent pitched beside it. There's another surveyor in the field, and we are dished already." So saying Juniper stood still, balancing himself on one leg and nursing the other in a thoughtful attitude, and gazing steadily on the unwelcome apparition. The vision was no imaginary one for there certainly was a a cart and beside it a dark gypsy looking tent, but there were no man or animals to be seen. " It would serve them right to run the cart into the river and burn the tent," said Juniper, " but come on, let us see who is in it." " They have as good a right to look for land as we have," said Edwin, as they pro- ceeded towards the strange encampment. Advancing cautiously lest in those dangerous times they might possibly meet with too warm a reception, they crept up close to the entrance of the tent and drew aside the curtain that served for a door. A solitary individual was sleeping beneath a comfortable opossum rug ;

his sleep was profound for his snoring was loud and regular like that of a man who possessed a satisfied conscience. Mr. Juniper waiving all ideas of ceremony, rudely dis- turbed the stranger's slumber by poking him with a stick, exclaiming at the same time— " Hi—who are you ?—and what are you doing here on this gentleman's property ?" The opossum rug heaved with a few con- vulsive twitches, and a hand of rough brown hair emerged slowly from beneath its multi- tudinous folds. By degrees a pair of greenish grey eyes, a nose, and a mouth became visible. There was nothing very remarkable in any of them, nor did their owner betray any more surprise than if he had been suddenly awakened in regular course by his own valet. The eyes, however, opened wider and wider an they gazed upon the two disturbers of his rest, and Edwin opened his in some astonish- ment as he recogniscd the fishy orbs of Mr. Benjamin Buffer. Yes, it was that redoubtable personage, one of the very last whom Edwin expected to see in such a place. The recognition was mutual, and Buffer, with rather more animation than he usually displayed, got up, dressed himself, and set to work to kindle his fire and make a pot of tea. He was delighted to see such welcome visitors, and told his story in a somewhat rambling manner, which, never- theless, his visitors were delighted to hear. Colonel Arthur, it appeared, on his return to Hobart Town, had sent him, much to his sur- prise, a location order for five hundred acres of land, with permission to resign his situation at St. Mary's Pass whenever he thought proper to do so, and which, on the receipt of the welcome paper, he lost no time in doing. Being at a loss for a friend to guide him in his new adventure, he applied to Mr. Baxter, the Avoca carrier, who consented, on receiving the promise of a handsome remuneration, to ac- company him with a team of bullocks, and assist him in laying the foundations of a future homestead. The carrier had brought a man with him who had been ordered to take particular care of the bullocks ; but for two days neither man nor bullocks had been seen, and Baxter had gone in search of them. It was Buffer who had emitted the alarming cries of the preceding evening in the hope that the carrier might possibly be near, but having heard Juniper's dogs, he became impressed with the idea that a party of natives was in the neighbourhood, and had passed an unpleasant night in consequence. It is needless for us to enter into a narra- tion of the proceeding of these embryo set- tlers. When the carrier returned in the course of the same day bringing his cattle but not his man, who he supposed had absconded, a council was held. The two parties agreed to make one until Juniper's survey of both properties should be completed. A second expedition to Launceston for supplies became necessary and Edwin took the command of it. He and Buffer were to be neighbors and be- came fast friends. The difficulties they had to overcome were numerous, and sometimes extremely disheartening ; but by patient per- severance and mutual assistance they were successfully combated and surmounted. Soon they had the satisfaction of seeing cottages, built of substantial slabs and roofed with pa- lings, rising on their respective estates, and adjoining each cottage a garden and paddock already containing vegetables and corn. Long after Juniper and Baxter had gone to their homes, and after other settlers had come to people that rich and romantic plain with numerous families of laughing children, Edwin and Buffer loved to ramble together in the a quiet evenings of summer and autumn ; and when tired of rambling to lie at full length on the grass, the one devouring a favourite book, and the other with pipe in mouth gazing lan- guidly on the brilliant sky. (To be continued.)